Since OPU was established in the autumn of 1991, its workers have dealt with many cases of minor foreign nationals without their lawful representative (unaccompanied minors) in the territory of the Czech Republic (migrants as well as international protection seekers) – further UAMs. In regards to necessity of particular treatment of UAMs, a special UAMs team consisting of a lawyer and a social worker was created in 2003.
OPU also assisted the creation of the Facility for children of foreign nationals (“ZDC”), established by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports of Czech Republic in 2004, where all UAMs residing in the Czech Republic are now being placed. The OPU team cooperates closely with the facility – OPU workers come to the facility once a week and they provide free-of-charge social and legal counselling and deal with accommodation search for its clients, among others.
At the moment, OPU is the only non-governmental organisation that systematically dedicates to this specific group of clients, responding to the current system of UAMs care and its drawbacks and attempts to fill in empty space in the system of care for unaccompanied minors with its activities.
WHAT THE UAMs TEAM OF OPU OFFERS TO ITS CLIENTS?
Provides free-of-charge social and legal counselling to unaccompanied minors
Offers assistance with accommodation situation in Czech Republic
Organises free-time activities in the Facility for children of foreign nationals, thanks to volunteers of OPU
Tries to secure financial means for language, practical or sports courses, textbooks or tools thanks to donations and projects
Realizes workshops preparing UAMs for an individual life after they’ve reached 18 yeras of age
Arranges psychological assistance, according to clients’ needs
UAMs team has a 24/7 helpline for UAMs where clients are encouraged to phone in case they need assistance with their problem.
If needed, we arrange interpreter service.
Workers of OPU remain in contact with former unaccompanied minors (FUAMs) after they have left the Facility for children of foreign nationals and continue to provide them social and legal counselling, especially social assistance with job search, accommodation search or communication with authorities.
WOULD YOU LIKE TO LEARN MORE WHO ANUNACCOMPANIED MINOR IS?
Then pay attention to the below-mentioned definitions.
DEFINITION OF “UNACCOMPANIED MINORS”
The term’s definition based on international and European law
In international expert circles, we may encounter the term ‘unaccompanied minors’ – UAMs. It is defined as a group of minor-aged children without their parents or other legal representatives who are now staying in another state’s territory out of their country of origin. As these children are usually not quite unaccompanied, they are often found in group with other refugees or migrants, traffickers etc., a new term has recently been coined, used particularly in Europe – ‘separated children’ – SC. The Separated Children Europe Programme (further SCEP) defined this group as children younger than 18 years of age who are now staying outside their country of origin and are separated from both parents or their legal representatives or usual caretakers. The SCEP programme, however, also includes children who live with their distant relatives and emphasises that all these children are separated and are entitled to international assistance and protection using a wide range of international measures as well as those of individual states’.
As for terminology used in EU directives within the asylum law, it is necessary to point out to the Council’s Directive n. 2003/9/EC dated 27th January 2003, laying down minimum requirements for reception of asylum seekers. This Directive, in its art.2, section h) defines ‘unaccompanied persons’: ‘persons below the age of eighteen who arrive in the territory of the Member States unaccompanied by an adult responsible for them whether by law or by custom, and for as long as they are not effectively taken into the care of such a person; it shall include minors who are left unaccompanied after they have entered the territory of Member States’.
Despite many European countries have already adopted these extended international definitions into their own legislature, great differences still remain in defining this vulnerable group of people. It is due to different, more detailed definition of unaccompanied minors in individual states’ legislature.
The term’s definition based on national law
Czech experts usually use terms ‘unaccompanied minor persons’ (nezletilé osoby bez doprovodu) or ‘unaccompanied minors’ (nezletilí bez doprovodu) – NBD. Both terms define the group as foreign nationals of minor age who are now staying in the territory of Czech Republic without their parents or legal representatives, regardless whether they have filed asylum appeal in the Czech territory or not. In the legal context, it is necessary to strictly distinguish between two groups of unaccompanied minors according to whether have filed asylum appeal or not.
As for the Czech legislature, the exact definition of these terms is to be found only in the current version of Asylum Act. In accordance to statement § 2 article 9 of the above-mentioned act, an accompanied minor persons is defined for the purposes of asylum granting procedure as: ‘persons of minor age who travel in to a territory without being accompanied by an adult person who is responsible for them according to the country of origin’s legislature or the country of last residence, for such a period during which they are actually in care of such persons; persons minor 18 years of age who were left alone after they have travelled in to the territory, is also considered an unaccompanied minor person’. This legal definition, however, may be applied to minor asylum seekers only. As for minor persons who have not filed asylum appeal, the term is defined in the Residence of Foreigners Act. The definition, included in § 180c of the Act, is more or less identical to that of Asylum Act.